Funding Nemo? Florida GOP Takes Aim at Disney Perks

April 4, 2022

If Disney sounds like an island of woke delusion, that's because -- legally -- it is. Thanks to a special legislative carve-out, the Magic Kingdom has been operating as its own self-governing district for more than half a century. They can approve their own construction projects, bypass local zoning laws, even install their own nuclear power plant without asking permission. It's been a sweetheart of a deal for Disney, until now. Turns out, there's a price to pay for declaring war on Florida parents -- and the company's local autonomy might be one of them.

"If I was Disney, I would certainly take this threat seriously," warned Aubrey Jewett, a political science professor who's studied the rules of the company's special entity. She, like most people, was shocked to see the power Disney has to act as "a law unto itself." But now, with CEO Bob Chapek and Governor Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) at public loggerheads, every weapon is on the table for Florida Republicans, including stripping Disney of its unique, unsupervised status.

"Disney has alienated a lot of people now," DeSantis said over the weekend. And yet, "Over many, many decades...they've gotten incredible treatment from the Florida legislature" -- even, he argued, put on a "pedestal." "That's not something I've ever supported. But now, in the legislature, you see a movement to reevaluate those special privileges... And so at the end of the day, I think Disney has gotten over its skis on this."

For Chapek, who stands to lose a lot more than face in his LGBT crusade, the news that legislators could put Disney's 55-year-old deal on the chopping block had to be a reality check. After the last four weeks of groveling to his radical base, the CEO is being forced to reckon with the reality that they have, as DeSantis put it, "gotten out over their skis on this." "[T]he political influence they're used to wielding, I think, has dissipated. And the question is, 'Why would you want to have special privileges in the law at all?' And I don't think that we should."

Already, State Rep. Spencer Roach (R-Fla.) confirmed, elected officials have held two meetings about repealing the 1967 agreement known as the Reedy Creek Improvement Act. "If Disney wants to embrace woke ideology, it seems fitting that they should be regulated by Orange County," he argued.

And that's not the only perk at stake. Florida tax breaks and tech exemptions are also on the line, Republicans say. In the nation's capital, there's also a growing movement to rescind Disney's copyrights -- one of which, Mickey Mouse's, is up for renewal in a year and a half. House Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Banks (R-Ind.) fired off a letter warning Chapek that fighting a law that stops classroom indoctrination has its consequences. "Given Disney's continued work with a Communist Chinese regime that does not respect human rights or U.S. intellectual property and given your desire to influence young children with sexual material inappropriate for their age, I will not support further extensions applicable to your copyrights, which should become public domain," Banks wrote. "Congress shouldn't support Disney's assault on American values."

Meanwhile, company heiress Abigail Disney took to Twitter in an unhinged, 13-tweet rant, insisting that "this 'anti-woke,' Right-wing nonsense is unsupported by a large majority of Americans." "In fact," she claimed, "most Americans are offended by it and wish it would just go away." Well, she's right that Americans are offended -- but not by DeSantis's pushback. In brand new polling, Disney is on the wrong side of almost every demographic metric. Democrats support Florida's law (55-29 percent). Suburban voters support Florida's law (60-30 percent). Parents support Florida's law (67-24 percent). People who have LGBT acquaintances support Florida's law (61-28 percent). Even Biden voters support Florida's law (53-30 percent). "If you think schools should be imposing these teachings upon elementary-aged children," Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) fired back, "you're the controversial one -- not me."

And yet, the Left continues to insist -- as White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did -- that banning sex and gender conversations until the fourth grade is "discriminatory." "It's a form of bullying," she fumed. "It's horrific." America is actually at a point where the extreme Left thinks it's bullying to ask teachers not to talk about transgenderism and homosexuality in kindergarten. This is no longer a subtle, gradual shift. This has pulled the curtain back on a worldview untethered to any transcendent or even historical truth or morality. The culture is going off the rails.

"I think this is a wake-up call for parents," FRC's David Closson insisted on "Washington Watch." "[It's] what the Bible talks about in Deuteronomy 6 -- that parents are to be the chief disciple-makers in their homes." Not Disney. Not the culture. Not schools. "We should normalize praying. We should normalize family devotionals, family worship... I think Christian parents absolutely need to take back this mantle, this understanding that sees them as first and foremost the disciplers of their children... And if we're not purposeful about [their] environments... the wrong things [become normalized]."

Disney has been in the business of cultivating radical worldviews in young America for too long. It's time for parents to rise up and reclaim their role, outlined in Proverbs 22:6, of training up children in "the way they should go."